The heavy lifting on the Lakers’ free agency won’t happen until July 1st, marking the beginning of an expected frenzy in their quest to keep Dwight Howard.
But for now, the Lakers are making changes on the fringes. General manager Mitch Kupchak revealed following the NBA Draft that he hasn’t extended qualifying offers to seldom-used reserves Darius Morris ($1.2 million), Andrew Goudelock ($1.1 million) and Devin Ebanks ($1.3 million), a move that will make them all unrestricted free agents.
That doesn’t mean all those players won’t become Lakers.
Morris preferred not to have his qualifying offer so he could see what interest he could attract on the open market in hopes of playing for a team where he could have a larger role. Both Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni granted Morris very few minutes considering his tendency to try to do too much on the court and still trying to find the right pace in using his superior speed and athleticism. But the Lakers like his work ethic, potential and enthusiasm enough to invite him to the Lakers Summer League from July 12-22.
“I hoped he would play,” Kupchak said.
But Morris said last week at a Time Warner Cable Media Event that hinges on whether he receives clarity on his free agency process before then. Ebanks won’t return to the Lakers. After showing promise his first two seasons, Ebanks fell out of the rotation completely due to poor conditioning, poor work ethic, limited development and getting arrested on suspicion of DUI. It’s possible Goudelock could still return to the Lakers, but that hinges on if they sign a superior player that takes his spot. The Lakers still liked Goudelock’s shooting enough to recall him from the D-League to play for an injured Kobe Bryant during the Lakers’ first-round sweep to the San Antonio Spurs.
If the Lakers gave qualifying offers to those players, they would have become restricted free agents. The Lakers would have had the right to match any offer they may have fielded from other teams.
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org